Daffodils are bright yellow perennials that bloom in the spring and start to die down in the summer. These hardy plants survive year after year, though over time, they produce smaller and fewer flowers. This is an indication that the bulbs are starting to be too crowded to bloom efficiently. Most of the life of daffodils is in the bulbs, which naturally divide and multiply under the ground.
Step 1 – The Time to Divide
In the summer, daffodil foliage fades and the petals start to fall off. In order to give the bulbs the most nutrition, let the leaves give them nourishment during this time as they still provide it through photosynthesis.
Plan to uproot and divide your bulbs about a month after the leaves start to wilt.
Step 2 – Dig Up the Bulbs
After a rain, select a day that is not too warm so that the ground is easy to dig up. Use a shovel to dig a round the daffodil, leaving some space in case the bulbs are spread around the stems. You can use a pitchfork to loosen the soil around the flower to avoid damaging the bulbs. Insert the shovel or fork and rock it around back and forth to loosen the bulbs.
Step 3 – Pull Up the Bulbs
While pulling on the leaves, the stems—which are attached to the bulbs—will pull the bulbs out from the dirt. If the daffodils have been growing for several years, there may be many bulbs. Have a basket or tub to hold the bulbs as you dig them up. Remove any excess dirt by shaking them lightly.
Continue digging in this manner to remove all the bulbs from the garden. There will be some bulbs which will separate naturally as the dirt is shaken off. Collect these as well for future planting.
Step 4 - Storing Bulbs
Although daffodil bulbs can be immediately planted, you can also dry them out and store for planting in the fall. Lay them out on newspaper and wrap lightly. After a few days, store them in a cool dry area in a netted bag to allow air flow to keep them from rotting.
Step 5 - Replanting
When replanting bulbs, the larger the bulb, the larger the bloom in the following spring. Replant larger bulbs in areas where you desire larger blooms. Smaller bulbs may just yield leaves in the spring, but as the leaves feed the bulbs through photosynthesis, they will produce a larger bloom in the following year.
Replant in 8-inch intervals to allow a few years of flowering before the bulbs will need to be dug up and separated again. Once the bulbs are planted, apply a thick coating of mulch to keep the bulbs moisturized over the winter. In the spring, small shoots will start popping out and flowering should take place soon afterwards.